DUIs are “priorable” offenses in California. That means that you face additional penalties for each DUI you have on your criminal record. In some cases, repeat DUI offenses can upgrade the charges you face from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Typically, a third DUI is not a felony. California typically charges individuals with two prior DUI or wet reckless convictions with a misdemeanor. However, under certain circumstances, prosecutors may seek a felony charge for your third DUI offense.
Whether you’re facing your first or your third DUI charge, you are entitled to legal representation. Even if you feel you made a mistake and deserve punishment, you may end up facing a penalty that’s less than fair for the circumstances of your arrest. Call (310) 896-2724 to speak with a skilled DUI lawyer for free about the facts surrounding your arrest and what options are available for you.
Penalties for a Third DUI
Under the best circumstances, a third DUI is a misdemeanor. However, this type of “simple” DUI does come with some harsh penalties. These penalties for three DUI convictions:
- Monetary fines and assessments – Up to $1,000 in fines and possibly an additional $17,000 in court assessment fees
- Jail time – Six months to one year in a county jail
- License trouble – You may have your license suspended for a year or have it revoked entirely
- DUI education – You will be mandated to attend classes for 30 months, which will cost you additional money on top of the above penalties
- Ignition interlock device installation – You will be required to pay for the installation of an ignition interlock device in every vehicle you regularly drive and will have to have it tested regularly for adherence and tampering
While these penalties are unpleasant, they are less severe than the penalties you would face for a felony DUI conviction.
A Note About Aggravating Factors
The above penalties assume that your arrest happened under ideal circumstances. Aggravating factors will increase the penalties you face. Some of these factors include:
- DUI with a minor passenger
- Chemical test refusal
- Blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above 0.15%
These factors will result in sentence enhancements to any penalties you face for three DUIs. However, they will not always increase your DUI to a felony.
When a Third DUI Is a Felony
A third DUI can be charged as a felony, but only under certain circumstances. These circumstances include:
- Prior felony DUI convictions
- DUI resulting in serious injury
- DUI resulting in the death of another person
For all these cases, the penalties you face will be much more severe than you would face for a “simple” third DUI. Some of the differences you face for a felony DUI conviction include:
- Longer incarceration periods
- Incarceration at a state prison instead of a county jail
- Larger monetary penalties
- Felony status on your criminal record
Prior Felony DUIs Don’t Fall Off Your Criminal Record
A DUI is a “priorable” offense. This means that previous DUI convictions, as well as wet reckless convictions, count for enhancing the penalties you face. However, in the case of misdemeanor charges, these convictions will only count against you if they occurred in the 10 years preceding the date of your DUI arrest.
Felony DUI charges don’t operate in this way. No matter how long ago the conviction was, the felony charge will still apply against you. Even if you’ve had a clean record for 20 years, a felony DUI charge will end up meaning that you’ll always face felony charges for a DUI.
Don’t Face a Third DUI Charge on Your Own
If you have two prior DUI or wet reckless convictions against you, the prosecutor is likely going to feel confident about securing a conviction. If the prosecutor decides to offer you a plea bargain, it very well could carry the maximum possible penalties. You would only save yourself the stress of facing trial.
While you may feel bad for your mistake, you are entitled to be treated fairly by the justice system. Hiring a DUI lawyer is one of the best steps you can take to ensure that you are treated the way you deserve.
A DUI lawyer will make sure that your case is handled properly. They will look to make sure:
- The laboratory handling your chemical test followed the proper procedures
- The arresting officer followed the proper protocol in initiating the arrest
- That there are no other explanations for the BAC reading
Any of these factors can reduce or even eliminate the penalties you could be facing for a third DUI. If you’re interested in hearing more about what a Los Angeles DUI lawyer can do for you, complete the contact form on this site or call (310) 896-2724 to schedule a free consultation.